Penn State

Penn State fraternity suspended for 4 years due to hazing allegations

A Penn State fraternity was suspended by the university through spring 2023 due to allegations of hazing during the new member education process, the university announced Tuesday.

The university’s Office of Student Conduct and Lambda Phi Epsilon International Fraternity launched a joint investigation into the Tau chapter of the fraternity in March after receiving the report, according to university spokeswoman Lisa Powers.

The investigation uncovered “compelling” evidence that hazing was being practiced at the fraternity, according to a statement from the fraternity’s board of directors.

“Student safety remains a top priority at Penn State. Hazing is illegal and not acceptable behavior for any student group,” Powers said in a statement. “When Penn State is alerted to evidence of hazing, the university takes immediate action to investigate and impose sanctions, including application of the student conduct process where appropriate.”

Penn State recommended the suspension May 17. Two weeks later, the international organization’s board of directors voted to withdraw the fraternity’s charter. The sanction was finalized June 17, following an appeals process, Powers said.

The fraternity lost all privileges as a recognized student organization and may not participate, attend or organize any functions, activities or events, or participate in university-wide events as an organization, according to the university.

The charter may no longer operate in any way and is not recognized by the international organization, according to the fraternity.

The international organization was unable to share more information about the allegations, Executive Director Jim Gaffney said. The university was also unable to share information about the allegations “because of a need to protect the anonymity of those involved,” Powers said.

“The international board is committed to confronting the issue of hazing and ensuring that Lambda Phi Epsilon is a place where men can learn, grow and be challenged in the pursuit of their noble purpose. Hazing has no place in that pursuit,” the organization said in a statement. “We appreciate the spirit of partnership and collaboration with which the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Office of Student Conduct at Penn State approached this situation. We look forward to working with the university to facilitate the return of Lambda Phi Epsilon to campus in the future.”

The fraternity is governed by the Multicultural Greek Council, which determines policies, procedures, rules and standards for its fraternities and sororities. Lambda Phi Epsilon is the second MGC fraternity to be suspended, joining Sigma Lambda Gamma, which was suspended through April 2020 for hazing violations.

Penn State implemented “aggressive” changes for Greek-letter organizations after Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza died following a bid acceptance night at the fraternity in February 2017.

The comprehensive reforms were aimed at curbing dangerous drinking, hazing, sexual assault and other negative behaviors and consequences found within Greek life.

The university also supported the Timothy J. Piazza anti-hazing law, which was signed into effect by Gov. Tom Wolf in October. Among the changes brought about by its passage, schools are required to have policies and reporting procedures in an attempt to prevent hazing.

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Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.